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This is partly accounted for by the strong presence of disciplines such as economics, demography, history and political science in research conducted on South Asia. This partly explains our interest in this diaspora studies approach, which converges with the transnational approach, as identified by Blunt It has subsequently insisted on simultaneity, long-distance practices and the reconfigurations of culture Levitt , which are all new fields of investigation developed by proponents of the transnational approach.

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Yet scholars committed to the transnational approach have largely considered space and place as the backdrop to what they observe, even when intending to pay closer attention to these categories. Our intention is to switch the lens to the reconfiguration of place, landscape and space by transnational flows, hence to how migrations influence the processes of space- and place-making, sometimes altering landscapes, but sometimes in a less obvious manner.

Following on from Lefebvre , it has been a common belief that space is a social construct. It is particularly the case in the context of accelerated movements of people that make encounters between different populations inevitable and creative. The sentimental attachment to place, as described in humanistic geography Tuan for example , lays emphasis on place as a security, a cocoon where human feels rooted. Yet it is an individual and psychological way of understanding human relationships with the social and physical world, which would deny social and dynamic components within relations to places.

David Harvey and Doreen Massey rightly warn against such essentializing of place and space. The fact that places are assigned multiple identities by different social groups can either be a source of cultural richness or a source of friction. Movement is inherent to place-making. Tamil officiating priests circulating in the diasporic space on various work contracts is one such example of religious-induced mobility see Trouillet in this issue.

Another example of this approach in reference to migrations from South Asia was developed by Voigt-Graf , who analyzed the transnational spaces of three different communities Fijians, Punjabis, Kannadigas that had settled in Australia.

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The author accurately describes how the identity of these migrants of South Asian origin was based on references to multiple countries where these people had roots or life experiences, in subtle constructions that differed for each group, thus creating distinct migratory spaces. They do not belong only to where they are but are part of broader global networks of social and spatial relations. They are ever changing locales due to ever changing social interactions, perceptions, etc.

With time, through everyday practices, the newly created locations become meaningful to their inhabitants and become places Creswell , Rigg In the context of mobility that has become all-encompassing, places are built by individuals and groups who move or have moved beyond any allegedly ancestral space of living. The social construction of place is thus not restricted to locales where roots are deep but, in particular in the case of international migrants or diasporans, place is part of a process of relocalization, or of multi-localization Ma Mung Nevertheless, there are few spatialized and geographical publications on South Asian migrant communities, although the aforementioned recent developments in migration studies have lent importance to the urban realm.

Acquiring an in-depth understanding of the complexity of contemporary transnational flows is at stake here.

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In this volume, Ester Gallo explores the construction of religious places in Italian cities, which reflect how Sikh migrants make places for themselves in the local urban fabric, contrasting two periods and two different settings, in Roma and in a small town which offer very different conditions of settlement for the establishment of gurdwaras.

The contribution by Pierre-Yves Trouillet provides an insightful example of such dynamics, as the last case study in his article presents a Hindu temple in Chennai that was built by migrants and that includes a replica of another temple located in the USA. It also supports the consideration developed by Brickell and Datta who highlight the need to switch scales in order to focus on neighbourhoods, urban landscapes and architecture though the migration lens.

Humans are not equal before space. Lefebvre clearly distinguishes, through a political vision of space, the different qualities of space. The space of the elite, of the architect or of urban planners is the dominant one. In this already framed space, individuals, through their spatial everyday practices and strategies de Certeau appropriate it.

This lived space is the space of everyday life where social reproduction occurs: it is the dominated space. Hence space is anything but neutral. This quotation includes different types of places that are built or appropriated by migrants; space becomes place when given meaning, values and names Creswell Identity dimensions are omnipresent in the two articles that focus on gurdwaras Gallo and temples Trouillet. The religious place also serves the political objectives of certain communities, such as resisting Bhojpuri domination.

The migration space takes shape in circulations and in localized places. By shaking off the imposed invisibility of warehouse-like places of worship and embracing the welcome, official visibility symbolized by the temple in the very centre of Terni, Sikhs have at last been able to achieve public recognition.

In Tamil and Sikh cases, issues of public visibility and of respectability are consciously discussed and viewed as a matter of political commitment to the country in which they have settled. On the day of the Ganesh festival, a Hindu procession takes place. This very well organized event is authorized and supported by the municipality, yet it is a risky business: it is a religious event in a country where such events are hardly tolerated in the public space and it is staged by the Sri Lankan Tamil community that does not hesitate to take to the streets to protest against the situation in North Sri Lanka.

During these rallies, tension often runs high Dequirez However, it is still a momentary manifestation of the presence of an immigrant community. For it to become institutionalized, the diaspora as a social form needs the materiality of places that contribute to its existence, for the sake of its own members Gallo.


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Private spaces, as studied by Tolia-Kelly , however, might enable us to understand how places are rebuilt, how memories and a homeward orientation are established in order to create a hybrid atmosphere, between here and there. Thus, spatial strategies need to be carefully observed in order to decipher how a new culture emerges and how adaptations to constraints are handled. Here space acts as a refuge but without the identity component it usually entails.

Besides their materiality, places are loci of interaction, innovation and negotiation, which are constructed by people who live far from their place of birth.


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In this context, places inhabited by people on the move also help us to understand the migrant community itself and its relationship with the social, political or natural environment where they live, either on a temporary or permanent basis. In the case of gurdwara in Rome and Terni Gallo , they do not represent diasporic feelings for newly arrived migrants who discover only exploitation and submission in these places.

It is only for fully integrated migrants that these temples are associated with a global belonging. Places do not embody the same values for all those who frequent them: depending on their social class, individual aspirations, the position of the group within the host society, the values attached to places vary greatly.

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Murphy is currently pursuing research on the history of the Punjabi language and the early modern and modern emergence of Punjabi literature, for which she has received major funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council from Modern Punjabi language and literature across borders : This project documents and analyzes the advocacy movement for the Punjabi language and its literature across national boundaries since the s, with a focus on its secular commitments and its relationship to religious mobilization.

She received SSHRC Insight Development grant support for initial research on this project from extended to and major Insight Grant support to complete the research from This project emerges out of and alongside the research undertaken on modern Punjabi language and literature, to account for the historical formations of Punjabi and its manifestation in Sufi and Sikh contexts. Pegah Shahbaz. Murphy has begun to develop a large-scale partnership project that will draw together a range of cultural historical work and contemporary creative practice across institutions and individual artists and scholars in Canada, the UK, Europe, India and Pakistan.

Murphy organized an exploratory workshop, funded by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, in along such lines. That project will be extended in with a set of artist residencies in Lahore, Pakistan, culminating in an exhibition at The Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford BC in summer that will bring together the work created in India and Pakistan to consider the ways the once-shared past of the whole of Punjab can or might be remembered in the present through creative practice.

The exhibition at The Reach will enhance public discourse on the Public Humanities and their role in guiding and shaping our exchange with the past with the support of a SSHRC Partnership Engage grant.


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Due to be published in Professor Murphy received her Ph. She is from New York City. Book-length translation of the Punjabi language short stories of Lahore-based author Zubair Ahmed. Accepted for publication by Athabasca University Press open access. Expected publication: February Partition and the Practice of Memory. Palgrave UK,